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Sequestration & Nonprofits: The Human Cliff

by Brenda Peluso

Reprinted with permission from the National Council of Nonprofits

The White House Office of Management and Budget issued a 394-page report detailing how $1.2 trillion in automatic spending cuts over 10 years will affect individual federal programs beginning on January 2, 2013. Congress originally mandated these across-the-board cuts, known as “sequestration,” in the Budget Control Act of 2011. The cuts will apply equally to defense and non-defense domestic programs, so each will lose about $55 billion in Fiscal Year 2013. The OMB report breaks down how the automatic, across-the-board cuts would hit more than 1,200 budget accounts, including:

  • Education grants to States and local school districts supporting smaller classes, afterschool programs, and children with disabilities would suffer.
  • The number of Federal Bureau of Investigation agents, Customs and Border Patrol agents, correctional officers, and federal prosecutors would be slashed.
  • The Federal Aviation Administration’s ability to oversee and manage the Nation’s airspace and air traffic control would be reduced.
  • The Department of Agriculture’s efforts to inspect food processing plants and prevent foodborne illnesses would be curtailed.
  • The Environmental Protection Agency’s ability to protect the water we drink and the air we breathe would be degraded.
  • The National Institutes of Health would have to halt or curtail scientific research, including needed research into cancer and childhood diseases.
  • The Federal Emergency Management Agency’s ability to respond to incidents of terrorism and other catastrophic events would be undermined.
  • And critical housing programs and food assistance for low-income families would be cut.

The nonpartisan Pew Center on the States translates that into human terms. The sequestration cuts ordered by Congress will cut $543 million in federal funding for food for women, infants, and children (WIC program). The same types of indiscriminate, across-the-board cuts will burden hundreds of other programs, such as cuts for basic education ($1.3 billion), special education ($1 billion), low income energy assistance ($285 million) for people to survive the extreme heat and cold, and child care and development ($187 million). Similarly, an article and letter, which 130 mayors have already signed onto, details the impact of sequestration on cities.

For more on this topic, read Tim Delaney’s, Executive Director of the National Council of Nonprofits, Huffington Post Blog article, “Day One on the Edge of the Human Cliff.”

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